Navigating Uncertainty with Surprise and Delight

Support from the Page of Cups for Pieces and The Moon Card

Meredyth Masterson
11 min readMar 14, 2023
Photo by Devon Daniel on Unsplash

Are you someone who enjoys surprises? What about a surprise birthday party?

If the idea of all your friends and family jumping out from behind the furniture to wish you a surprise happy birthday sounds awful to you, you’re not alone.

When Googling the word surprise, the top question was, “What is a better word for surprise?”

It’s not uncommon for adults to say they hate surprises, yet as children we love surprises.

At a birthday party of mine, I got to watch the excitement of my friend’s four-year-old daughter as she marveled at each of my gifts, exclaiming, “What is it inside?!” The actual presents were less interesting to her than the mystery of something unknown, about to be revealed.

As children, we welcome the unknown. How could we not? Almost everything is unknown when we’re kids. We need adults to keep us safe from harm as we grow.

The more that we experience, the more we learn. Based on our past experiences, we learn to anticipate potential dangers. This is a natural and healthy part of the ego’s formation.

The ego wants to keep us safe, a beautiful intention. Unfortunately, in its drive for self-preservation, the ego inevitably creates barriers for the actual enjoyment of safety.

Photo by Erik Karits on Unsplash

If we’ve been surprised by a bee-sting while sitting in a field of clover, we wisely learn to avoid bees; however, the ego may also come up with a story that tells us lying in a field of clover and looking at the clouds is too great a risk.

Our brains are amazing. At all times, they calculate so much information. To do so efficiently and avoid overwhelm, the brain sorts data into categories of threatening, important, and not important buckets, so to speak. Unfortunately, our sense of wonderment can get tossed out with the ‘not important’ bucket.

Our ability to anticipate risk is critical to our survival. Wonderment is not. It is however, a requirement for experiencing joy.

Photo by Chris Malinao Burgett on Unsplash

As we age, our experiences of wonderment seem to diminish. Wrapping-paper looses its excitement and we want to get to the gift.

We’re more likely to get a spur-of-the-moment nipple piercing in our early 20’s than we are in our 30’s, because the area of the brain responsible for consequential thinking, the prefrontal cortex, doesn’t fully mature until our mid to late 20's.

When it comes to experiencing the unknown, like a good finance manager, a mature brain’s default setting is ‘no’.

Anticipating risk is often a good thing. It’d be catastrophic if we lived in a constant state of wonderment. We’d never be able to make it past the sock drawer to get dressed, and if we made it outside, we’d curiously walk into oncoming traffic.

Our brains are problem-solving, pattern-making machines, which is fine, until they become problem-seeking machines.

When anticipation turns into expectation, disappointment is inevitable.

To protect against disappointment, the ego’s answer is to fight against the unknown.

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“Don’t get your hopes up, so that you won’t be disappointed” is the mantra of the ego. And yet, we know that stifling joy has not once mitigated sadness. In fact, it compounds it.

The ego’s story goes something like, “If I can figure out what I did wrong that lead to the bad outcome, then I can be perfect in the future and I will be safe. I don’t trust the present, because even if things are good right now, they might be bad later, so I need to stay vigilant for what unknown bad thing might happen.”

The ego only understands the language of good and bad, right and wrong. It has no interest in the truth or the present.

This ego story is often what leads people to the Tarot. When we’ve done all that we can to try and control our lives, and we find we’re still unable to, finally we ask for help from Divine.

Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash

Our requests for assistance from Divine are always received, but they’re never answered in the form of a negative premonition. That’s just not how Spirit rolls.

Some people might think that my job as a Tarot reader is to accurately predict the future. It’s not. No one can predict the future because it isn’t a fixed thing.

Instead, my work is dedicated to helping my clients find clarity in the truth and the present. The only accurate prediction I can make is: in the future, you will be in the present.

And by the way, it’s absolutely fine to pull Tarot cards when we’re looking for answers about the future.

When we do, and if the ego is screaming for certainty and answers, the card that will often show up is The Moon.

Smith Rider Waite Deck

The Moon card is ruled by our current season, Pieces.

Pieces and The Moon are poetic and mysterious. They hold our dreams and the subconscious.

In The Moon, we must accept that at times there will be absolute darkness and at others, we might be bathed in moonlight, feeling the urge to howl like a ‘lunatic’.

Like life, the Moon is always changing. It pulls both the ocean’s tides and our bodies. We can chart the phases of the Moon, but we cannot predict how it will effect our emotions.

Whenever we feel lost and in the dark, the brain kicks into high-alert. When we’re experiencing something unknown, the ego’s normal reaction is fear, and will immediately labels it as unsafe and bad.

If then, we turn to the Tarot for help and The Moon card shows up, it can feel extra frustrating. It’s a bit like getting a “cannot predict now” or “reply hazy, ask again later” response from a magic 8 ball.

Photo by Mitchell Hartley on Unsplash

And that experience of frustration is the lesson. We’re always living in the unknown, but we’re really good at forgetting that.

When we enter a season of uncertainty, say a relocation, a pregnancy, or a global pandemic, The Moon card shows up to remind us that we’re not supposed to know.

Of course the ego hates this. It’s job is to keep us safe. In the unknown, there’s no good/bad or right/wrong answer or story to latch onto, so the brain will offer up creative dooms-day worst-case-scenarios to distract us.

The ego is good at attaching to suffering, it trusts suffering over joy; and so, it would much rather have us feel safe by believing everything is going to be horrible, rather than to imagining how amazing things might be instead.

So what can be done? Is there any real way to prepare for an unknowable unknown future? Yes.

Instead of abiding the ego’s reflexive fear of the unknown, we can begin a practice of cultivating surprise and delight…

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Instead of experiencing The Moon’s Piecean energy as an infrequent and unwelcome house guest, it’s possible to cultivate a relationship with the unknown that feels fun and rewarding.

Remember the kiddo at the birthday party? She wasn’t disappointed by any of my gifts because she had no expectations for them. She was happy to reside in anticipation. As adults, we can live there too.

Anticipation for the unknown, before it turns into expectation, is where joy springs from.

In the Tarot, this joy-spring begins with the Ace of Cups.

Smith Rider Waite

Eliminated by Water, The Cups represent our emotions. In this suit, we learn what it means to come from abundance and overflow.

Like water, feelings and emotions flow through us. Like a cup, our heart-center is the vessel by which we carry our sorrows and joys, our love and our gratitude.

By centering ourselves in receptivity and gratitude, we can constantly replenish our love and energy. Then, we can we give of ourselves freely.

When we leave the Tens and graduate to the Pages, we’ve understood what it means to work with the suit’s energy. We then graduate into our Court Cards, which combine two elements.

The Page of Cups is a combination of Water and Earth.

It’s this elemental combination that makes the Page of Cups so capable of demonstrating how to stay grounded inside the uncertainty of The Moon’s big water.

Smith Rider Waite

Just as when we combine water and earth we get mud, when we enter into the unknown, things get muddy. And that’s okay!

The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s book about transforming suffering into joy is titled, No Mud, No Lotus, and the Page of Cups would agree. Just look at the lotus blossoms on that outfit!

Of all the figures in the Smith Rider Waite, the Page of Cups has one of the best ensembles. And what is that in his cup? A fish?!

Clearly the Page of Cups has places to go, he just leveled up into the Courts, but he’s stopped in his tracks by the wonderment of that fish. No doubt the fish is surprised as well!

The Page of Cups understands what it means to have big feelings. He’s arriving from a place of emotional fulfillment, so much so that he’s ready to put those feelings into the world.

When I see this card, I like to imagine the the first marine creature that ventured onto land. How to breath? What to do? But oh, the adventure of evolution!


I Don’t Know What it is, and I Love it!

Overwriting the ego’s reflexive fear the unknown isn’t as hard as you might imagine. As adults, we can actually trust that the major risk-factors of being alive have been learned. You know fire is hot, bees can sting, and taxes are mandatory.

Instead of keeping us safe, it’s more likely the ego is acting as a joy-blocker these days. But that’s just a habit, and habits can be changed.

If we want to be prepared to step into deep uncertain waters, we don’t practice by fantasizing of drowning (imagining the worst-case-scenario). Nor does it help to understand the molecular structure of water (accurately predicting the future). Instead, we stay curious in the shallows (cultivating surprise and delight).

The unspoken script of the ego says, “I know what it is, so I can ignore it” or, “I don’t know what it is so I should fear and avoid it.”

Instead, using the Page of Cups as our guide, we can look for the fish.

When we look for the fish, we re-write that script to say, “I don’t know what it is, and I love it.”

In practice, it goes as follows:

Before stepping out of the house, instead of scrolling the phone or putting on headphones to distract from the banal, look up and silently repeat this new mantra, “I don’t know what is going to happen on this walk, and I love it.”

Photo by Silvana Carlos on Unsplash

As a dog owner I have both the perfect excuse, companion, and teacher for this exercise. Pandora and I may have taken the same route to the grocery store one hundred times, but I honestly don’t know what we might see on any future day. And since we’ve walk the same path so many times, it’s an especially safe journey to re-welcome wonderment.

When we change the script and acknowledge that a) I don’t know what is going to happen next and b) I am going to love it, our wonderment has room to reemerge.

In practicing this exercise today, I met a stranger with a cane who gave me an interesting fact about one of the buildings, saw a cute baby, noticed an old building with new windows, and observed the detail on the underside of a crow’s wing. I can honestly say that I was surprised and delighted.

You can take this practice a step further by keeping a surprise and delight journal. I have myself and it is a remarkable exercise.

You can also use this phrase in your manifestations. Simply state or record, “Divine, bring me X in ways that surprise and delight me.” Then, be on the lookout for the surprise and delight.

When using this manifestation for money, I will begin to see change on the ground, or receive class-action settlements. I’ve found $40 in one book and $700 in another. No matter what the sum or the form it arrived in, I was surprised and delighted.

When we practice being in a state of anticipation of the unknown, without expectation, we aren’t risking disappointment, we’re making space to observe and receive joy.

By making a practice to look for the fish, we can also condition ourselves to navigate more challenging times of uncertainty with surprise and delight. I know that when my mother’s dog became sick, she applied this mantra and though it was still sad for her to say goodbye, she wasn’t overcome with grief. And, soon after Peaches passed, she manifested a puppy!

I hope that you are able to practice looking for the fish with the Page of Cups, and when you do, you can be surprised and delighted to learn that uncertainty and The Moon are sources of joy.

Melissa and Jackson Brandts

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Reading the Tarot is my joy and my vocation. If you would like to receive a reading from me, I would be honored to serve you. You can read more and book with me, either in-person from my San Francisco location, or remotely from anywhere in the world here.



Meredyth Masterson

I write about tarot, life, and I offer Moon manifestation rituals from a joy-informed perspective